Exclusive: Jackie McNamara tells Lubo and McStay training stories as he picks ultimate Celtic 5-a-side team
Celtic legend Jackie McNamara is a 67 Hail Hail pundit this season and we’ve already sought his opinion on a variety of topics including Jeremie Frimpong’s progress at the club and Vakoun Bayo’s move to France.
However, we also want to delve into his own career at the Bhoys having arrived in the mid-1990s and ultimately going on to experience incredible success under Wim Jansen and Martin O’Neill.
One way of doing that is celebrating his exceptional teammates, so we asked the former defender to put together his ultimate Celtic 5-a-side team, the only criteria being that he had to have played alongside his selections.
You can watch the interview on our YouTube channel, or you can continue reading to find out who he picked in all five positions.
Goalkeeper Rab Douglas joined the club in 2000 and would go on to make 163 appearances for the club in all competitions, becoming a trusted choice of O’Neill.
McNamara also played alongside the big ‘keeper in the Scotland national team, so he was a natural choice for the legend’s pick between the sticks on the five-a-side pitch.
He told 67 Hail Hail: “Goalkeeper was the most difficult position to pick. Gordon Marshall was probably the best of them all with the ball at his feet, better than Jonathan Gould or Big Rab. In five-a-sides, Rab would probably fill the goal, not because he’s fat or anything! I’d probably go with Big Rab.
“I played with Rab in the Star Sixes recently and he did well for us, especially in the England game.”
When putting together a five-a-side team, it’s important to consider the difficult balance between defence and attack. Have too many big physical lads in the line-up and you’ll struggle for goals.
One man who can perform as a defender and a striker is Chris Sutton and the outspoken Hoops icon was Jackie’s second pick in the team, for exactly that reason.
McNamara said: “I would go all-out attack, I’ve got versatility in my team. There’s nobody more versatile than big Sutty, he could play as a centre-back, he can get forward. I like a lot of movement in my team and I think he would rotate quite well.”
Sutton could also, of course, provide the post-match interview given his now vast media experience across the papers and different broadcasters.
We asked Jackie if Sutton always had that brash, outspoken side to him inside the dressing room.
His old teammate told us: “He was worse! He’s actually a very intelligent lad, Sutton, but he’s a wind-up merchant. First and foremost he was a top, top player.
“Wherever he played he was intelligent, he knew how to bring people into play, the right time to draw a foul.
“He was a very, very influential player for the team.”
Next up for McNamara was someone who could control the match, dictate the play and provide the leadership required to pick up a victory.
He chose none other than Paul McStay, the man they call The Maestro.
Jackie told 67 Hail Hail: “He would control the tempo of the game. As a young kid watching Celtic, you don’t appreciate why he was called the Maestro until you took part in a game or in training with him.
“He did control the pace, he could bring everyone up or slow it down, he was just a fantastic football player and a great guy as well.
“He had commitment and desire. Even in training. Once before a Rangers match we were down in Seamill, the tackles were flying in. I think Paul caught Tom Boyd and he ended up getting a few stitches before the game! Just that willingness to win, that’s why he’d be in my team.”
Now for a bit of creativity and firepower.
From McNamara’s generation, who else would you pick for that task other than the little genius Lubomir Moravcik?
The attacking midfielder is an obvious pick for Jackie’s number four, despite a strong challenge from Alan Thompson.
He said: “When you came up against him in training… I defy anyone to tell me which foot he favoured. With both feet he could score from a corner, free-kicks. In close areas, he could chop you for fun in one-on-ones. He did it in a way you could not get near.
“I always remember when we played in Ryan Giggs’ Testimonial, Liam Miller went to swap strips with Eric Cantona and Cantona said, ‘No I want Moravcik’s top.’
“Zinedine Zidane absolutely loved Lubo when he played against him and based his game on Lubo. Although we didn’t know him when he arrived, people abroad knew him. When you look at his goals over the years, they were just incredible.”
Saving the best for last, there was absolutely no way that McNamara was going to round out his ultimate five-a-side team without giving a spot to The King of Kings himself, Henrik Larsson.
Jackie told 67 Hail Hail: “Pure and simple, he was just the best. In my ten years at Celtic, we always had good forward attacking players and strikers – Pierre van Hooijdonk, Jorge Cadete, Andy Thom, Paolo Di Canio, John Hartson – but Larsson was the best.”
The Swedish legend netted an unbelievable 242 goals in 315 appearances for the Bhoys, cementing himself as an all-time legend of the club.
In his prime he would’ve been a key addition to almost any team in the world and we were lucky enough to watch him for seven years.
We thank Jackie as always for joining us on the website and we’re pleased to say we’ll have plenty more from him over the coming weeks and months.
It really is fantastic to have his insight in a potentially historic season and reminiscing with him about a Celtic team I grew up with was also an absolute pleasure.
As we mentioned at the start of the piece, you can catch video interviews with McNamara on our YouTube channel.